What is an Unfinished Barbecue Island?

Unfinished barbecue islands are easy-to-assemble frames used to build complete outdoor kitchens. Their modular designs add value to any project because you can construct the frame to fit nearly any kitchen shape. With quick and easy assembly, these kits turn a project that might normally take days into an afternoon. On top of that, any kitchen built with this framework is easy to design and customize to fit your needs. Plus, if the design needs more framework than what comes with the kit, individual pieces are easy to find. It will even save you money on a complete custom build.

These kits go by many different names such as unfinished barbecue islands, outdoor kitchen frames, and barbecue island cabinets, but they are all the same thing: a collection of modular metal components that form the frame of an outdoor kitchen. Let’s explore more about them.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Barbecue Islands

If you enjoy working with your hands and take pride in building things yourself, unfinished barbecue islands are simple enough to handle yourself without requiring a contractor. Plus, the joy of entertaining in an outdoor kitchen you made yourself is hard to beat.

DIFM (Do It for Me) Barbecue Islands

Unfinished kitchen kits are a cost-effective option that will save you money in the long run. They are an excellent alternative to custom builds that won’t skimp on gorgeous veneers and finishes.

Outdoor Kitchen Contractors

For contractors, barbecue island frames work well if unexpected issues arise that affect your client’s deadline or budget. They are light on the wallet, easy to build, and can potentially solve some problems.

Benefits of Unfinished Barbecue Island Frames

Simple Assembly

Outdoor kitchen cabinets are packed flat for safe and easy shipping. This makes them easy to handle and move around the jobsite. Generally speaking, it takes little effort and basic tools to assemble these durable cabinets from start to finish.

Easy Customization

An island frame is the modular skeleton of your outdoor kitchen project. Whatever exterior is designed is purely down to preference, which opens up a huge variety of great finishes and layouts. Just keep in mind that non-combustible will serve you best.

Safe & Non-Combustible

Each piece is designed by a company specializing in outdoor kitchen framing—sourcing these materials this way guarantees durability and a complete cabinet build from non-combustible materials.

Saves Time, Saves Money

These barbecue island frames are quite simple to build, as opposed to the greater difficulty of completely custom jobs. Comparatively, they’re even priced at a nice bargain making them a cost-effective option.

Start with the Unfinished Barbecue Cabinet Brands

When shopping for unfinished island kits, our experts have learned that the easiest way to start is by looking at brands. Narrowing down the barbecue island build project upfront to a specific manufacturer is an important step because they aren’t interchangeable: they serve different climate needs, have little overlap in construction materials or processes, and aren’t strictly the same in their cabinet categories or compositions.

One other thing to consider when purchasing a modular island kit is the cutout dimensions necessary for your appliances. These islands come with supports inside that cannot be cut into, meaning that the cutout dimensions need to be smaller than the total width of the island. The amount of space required for these supports will vary by brand.

BBQGuys Signature Systems

BBQGuys Signature ready for finish modules are turn-key kits and appliance modules that even include the fixtures. This takes the guesswork out of planning your perfect custom outdoor kitchen. In addition, they are designed to be easy to assemble, with straightforward instructions and minimal tools required. Each module easily connects with other pieces and comes with the cutouts already installed.

BBQGuys Signature Outdoor Kitchen kit frame for gas grill
  • Fully welded commercial gauge triple galvanized steel for the harshest environments
  • Each module bolts together in about 5 minutes
  • Easily connects with other modules with 4 bolts
  • Cement board tops are included
  • Each module comes with the cutouts already installed
  • Backed by a 10-year warranty

RTF Systems

RTF Systems designs environmentally friendly island kits of 1-inch thick, US-made, hot-dipped galvanized steel square tubing. These ready to finish frames aren’t quite as easy to assemble and may require some cutting, but their thinner pieces assemble in smaller spaces. Frame manufacturing from RTF Systems not only releases fewer CO2 emissions but, through minimal industrial processing, creates environmentally friendly byproducts. Their frames are created from materials especially resilient, recyclable, and renewable, and feature a respectable 10-year warranty.

RTF Outdoor Kitchen Island
  • For the environmentally conscious
  • Less bolting, more cutting involved in builds
  • Slimmer design of frame pieces fits in smaller spaces
  • Durable hot-dipped galvanized steel construction
  • Grill cabinets use easy adjustable telescoping braces
  • Much easier to include a raised second countertop
  • Backed by a 10-year warranty

Pro-Fit Systems

Pro-Fit unfinished islands are designed for easy DIY assembly. The durable aluminum frame means they are naturally resistant to rust and is reflected in their lifetime warranty. They are non-combustible, moisture, rust, mold, mildew, and pest resistant. You have the freedom to choose the finishing materials and appliances. Included universal aluminum brackets and crossbars can be cut to size to fit your chosen appliances and components. This unfinished island will reduce the cost of building an outdoor kitchen and is also made in the USA.

Pro-Fit Outdoor Kitchen Island kit frame
  • Sleek & modern design
  • Lightweight & durable construction
  • Able to be installed in under 30 minutes
  • Designed for hassle-free assembly
  • Comes with all the necessary hardware
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

Which Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Brand Better Fits My Needs?

  RTF BBQGuys Signature Pro-Fit Systems
  Shop Now Shop Now Shop Now
Is this frame suitable in saltwater, oceanfront properties? Yes Yes Yes
Is this frame suitable within 10 feet of an outdoor pool? Yes Yes Yes
What are the frames made from? US Made Galvanized Steel w/ Lock-On Coating Galvanized Steel Aluminum
How long does this frame’s warranty last? 10 Years 10 Years Lifetime
How do the frame pieces connect? Brackets Bolts Brackets
What does the overall assembly mostly involve? Cutting Bolting Cutting
Does this frame easily support a raised countertop? When purchased with bar components No When bar cabinet is purchased
Can I build this frame without side kits? Yes No Yes
Cutout dimensions — how much shorter than the cabinets must they be? At least 6” Pre-Cut Universal
What kind of supports do the cabinets use? Telescoping braces Galvanized Steel Aluminum Brackets and Crossbars

How Do You Assemble a Barbecue Island Frame?

As always, it’s important to consult your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, especially when it comes to safety procedures and equipment. You should never attempt to assemble your island alone, and always make sure you are working with at least one other person.

Pro Fit Systems

This instructional video will walk you through how to design, create, and build your do-it-yourself Pro Fit outdoor kitchen island.


This in-depth video tutorial of a 6-foot outdoor kitchen assembly is a splendid example of what to expect with RTS System builds.

Interested in learning more? If you have further questions about unfinished barbecue islands, our outdoor kitchen experts are happy to assist. Give them a call at (877) 743-2269 and check out our Outdoor Kitchen 3D Design Service to get started on planning your perfect backyard.